UW News

October 17, 2002

Conference focuses on problem of human trafficking

An international conference on the global epidemic in human trafficking will be held on the UW campus Oct. 25 and 26. Up to 4 million people are trafficked every year across international borders, the overwhelming majority of whom are women and children under the age of 25. Trafficking is now among the world’s most lucrative international crimes, along with trade in drugs and weapons.

Liza Maza, the keynote speaker, is a member of the Philippines House of Representatives and served as the Secretary General of GABRIELA (The Philippines’ national alliance of women’s organizations), initiating the global Purple Rose campaign to expose and fight the trafficking of Filipino women and children. Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel, director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking and senior advisor to Colin Powell, will also speak. This will be her first appearance in the Pacific Northwest.

The subject of trafficking also has a special significance for the people of Seattle, considering the Sept. 18 bust of a local trafficking ring. The Asian gang transported poor, 20-something women from several Asian countries and forced them to work in brothels in the First Hill area and South Seattle. Washington State Representative Velma Veloria, a featured speaker at the conference, sponsored legislation making Washington the first state in the country to acknowledge the current crisis in international human trafficking and to make it a punishable crime.

Conference panels will address the issue of trafficking from a variety of standpoints. Suggested donation is $15, but students will be admitted free with valid student ID. Registration is required. For more information on the conference, see http://depts.washington.edu/womenctr/trafficking.html  or call 206-685-1090.